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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS from THE HINDU 17th August 2017 By Jatin Verma Educator Unacademy
Page-I : India has 2731 2 elephants, census shows. TG.S. Mains-3: Environment & Ecology] . Preliminary results from the first-ever synchronised all-India Elephant Population Estimation pegs India's Asian elephant population at 27,312.The estimate, derived from the sighting-based direct count method alone, will be confirmed with estimates from the indirect dung-count method in three months. According to the report, released by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change on August 12, Karnataka' has the highest number of elephants (6,049),followed by Assam2 (5,719) and Kerala3 (3,054). The numbers are lower than from the last census estimate in 2012 (between 29,39l and 30,711). But experts say parallels cannot be drawn, because in the 2012 count, various states used different methodologies and the effort was not synchronised across the country; errors and duplication could have led to overestimation. . This time, a number of indices, including birth rate, indicate that the elephant population is increasing. Nobody can dispute the fact that their geographical range has increased There has been a marginal increase in elephant numbers ever since the 1990s.
Man-animal conflict Due to habitat fragmentation, elephants are moving out to agricultural landscapes leading to an increase in man-elephant conflict . Conflict includes both crop damage and loss of lives, there is no single solution for both. . The census, conducted between March and May this year, covered 1.1 0 lakh square kilometres and spanned four regions of the country: the northeast, east-central, south and north. The Asian Nature Conservation Foundation (ANCF) at the Indian Institute of Science (Bengaluru), several NGOs and independent conservationists aided the Project Elephant Directorate and forest departments of 23 states in this exercise. Page-l:Gorakhpur deaths not due to lack of oxygen, says panel The deaths of dozens of children and others at the Baba Raghav Das Medical College Hospital in Gorakhpur were not caused by shortage of oxygen supply a three-member Central government committee said. . Infact, the number of deaths have reduced compared to last year, said the team. . The team visited the hospital amid allegations that a private contractor stopped supplying oxygen, resulting in the death of over 40 children. . The committee had submitted an interim report and we are all set to submit the final report to the Union Health and Family Welfare Ministry.
Page-7:Union Cabinet approves new metro rail policy. [G.S. Mains-3: Infrastructure] . Under the new policy cleared by the Union cabinet: [iJThe central government will approve and aid metro rail projects only if they have private participation and ensure last-mile connectivity for users. [i]States will get powers to make rules and regulations and set up permanent fare fixation authorities. [iii]In line with global best practices, metro projects will be approved on the basis of 'Economic Internal Rate of Return of 14%, a change from the existing 'Financial Internal Rate of Return of 8%, [iv]Private participation either for complete provision of metro rail or for some unbundled components (like automatic fare collection, operation and maintenance of services, etc) will form an essential requirement for all metro rail projects seeking central financial assistance. Urban development Ministry outlined three options for states wishing to take up metro projects and are keen on central assistance. One, public-private partnership with central assistance under the finance ministry's viability gap funding scheme; -Two, central govt grant under which I 0% of project cost will be given as central aid in a lump sum; Three, 50:50 equity sharing model between central and state governments
o Private participation will be mandatory under all three options. Metro rail projects are capital-intensive and are generally financed by central and state governments with equity and grants. . The rest is raised from multilateral agencies like Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and European Investment Bank (EIB). . Under the new policy, states need to adopt innovative mechanisms like value capture financing tools to mobilize resources for financing metro projects by capturing a share of increase in the asset values through 'Betterment Levy . States will also be required to enable low-cost debt capital by issuing corporate bonds for metro projects - The new policy also says states must.commit to building last-mile connectivity through feeder services, non-motorised transport infrastructure like walking and cycling pathways and para- transport facilities. States proposing such projects will be required to indicate in their project report the proposals and investments that would be made for such services.
*Analysis: View of Analysts: Analysts say that having PPPs at the construction stage is not advisable since the construction risk in an urban environment is very high. They suggest that it is far better for Govt. to be the front entity rather than a private party. However PPP may work in the operations and maintenance space Positive aspect of the policy is its focus on last mile connectivity through feeder services for a catchment area of 5km. The move comes at a time of rising demand for metro rail networks and various state governments making project proposals. . From 2014 to 2017,the Union urban development ministry sanctioned Rs30,653.78 crore for metro rail projects, out of which only Rs12,345.33 crore was released to companies overseeing them. . In the current fiscal year, the ministry has allocated around Rs17,960 crore for metro rail companies, of which, till the first quarter ended June, only Rs4,650 crore had been spent. The figures are for Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, and Delhi NCR. [Mass Rapid Transport Systems]
Page-7: Corpus fund for proceeds of education cess. . The Cabinet approved the setting up of a single corpus fund, in which all proceeds of secondary and higher education cess will be credited.These will be utilised for the government's schemes in the education sector. The HRD Ministry will be responsible for the administration and maintenance of the non-lapsable pool that will be known as "Madhyamik and Uchchtar Shiksha Kosh (MUSK). The funds arising from the MUSK will be utilised for schemes in the education sector which would be available for the benefit of students of secondary and higher education. Background: (i) During the 10th Plan, an education cess of 2% on all central taxes. Finance Minister, in his budget speech of 2007 proposed an additional cess of 1% on central taxes for secondary and higher education. (ii) A cess @ 1% on central taxes, called the "Secondary and Higher Education Cess" was levied through Finance Act, 2007 to "fulfil the commitment of the Government to provide and finance secondary and higher education" (Section 136 of the Act).
Page-10: Smartphones under scanner for 'leaking' data . Concerned about instances of Indian mobile phone users' contact lists, details and text messages being leaked to other countries, including China, the government has asked all firms selling smartphone handsets in the country to share details of the processes they follow to ensure there is no possibility of data thefts or leakages from their devices. . The government is concerned not just about the security features of the handsets being sold, but also of d programmes that are a part of the user experience, such as the operating system,browser and pre-loaded applications. . As a first step in this direction, Govt. has asked all smartphone sellers in the country to inform us of the security procedures they follow to ensure data security of the users of those devices.They have to report to the Electronics and IT Ministry on this issue by August 26. . While he refused to name specific companies whose phones have been compromising user data, the official said that the government will take steps to independently verify the claims made by mobile phone sellers about their security systems,and this could include independent third party audits, if need be. . Section 43A of the Information Technology Act puts the onus on corporates to secure the data in their possession, and the compensation they may be liable to pay for a breach of data or the loss caused by data theft could be unlimited.
PAGE-12: International: U.K.seeks to work together with India over North Korea crisis Britain hopes to work with India to exercise influence over China on North Korea. Country's Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson expressed his hope that the two allies could work together to "persuade our friends in China of the truth. It's in the Chinese government's hands to exercise that economic pressure to achieve the diplomatic resolution that we need. . Mr.Johnson's remarks mark a shift away in Britain from rhetoric focussed largely on trade cooperation with India in the wake of the Brexit referendum to a more holistic discussion of the relationship . Senior figures in India have expressed their concerns about the focus on boosting trade. Last year, Commerce and Industry Minister told the BBC that India was no longer being treated as old friends" but that relationship had become a "tight professional engagement. Mr. Johnson also acknowledged factors that stood in the way of greater cooperation, including over visas, and student visas in particular
Business Page 13: India aims to widen oil import sources . Indian Oil Corporation placed India's first ever shale oil order two days ago with the U.S. The prices from the U.S. were very competitive even when compared with those from Gulf nations. Speaking after his meeting with Turkmenistan Deputy Prime Minister in New Delhi on August 14, Petroleum Minister said that, regardless of the current tensions between India and China on the border, China was showing keen interest in maintaining business relations between the two countries. . Increasing oil imports from new sources such as the U.S. was also putting pressure on OPEC countries to reduce the Asian premium' on oil prices they charge Asian countries, including India. India used to buy oil on an FOB (Free On Board) basis. Now, these small shale producers cannot give a complete supply,so we have allowed them to aggregate and ship it to us. It is their ship that will deliver to us. . Under the FOB model, the buyer takes delivery of the item as soon as it leaves the seller's shores, which means that shipping costs are borne by the buyer.The deal with U.S. companies by lOC and BPCL, for 3.5 million barrels and 1.9 million barrels respectively, has PetroChina transporting the oil on behalf of the U.S. companies China's red carpet,: Recently, several ministers have traveled to China and found that, whatever is happening on the border or on the dinlomatic front the Chinese do not want tolet business sto between the two countries.
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